The conflicts in reality TV as we seen in the most recent “old days” were created by show creators’ or casting directors’ gut instinct. They put interesting people or people with opposing characteristics on a show and “hope” for the best.
The Chicken or The Egg – Casting for Reality session at 2012 Banff World Media Festival gave me a deep and insightful insider look of the current practice in casting for reality TV. Psychological personality tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) are used to precisely create (I debate using the word “manipulate”) the reality TV casts composition to manufacture the right mix for “fireworks” to happen on screen.
The Good and The Bad
I agree that tests like MMPI-2 will help screened out extreme contestants that should NOT to be allowed on TV in order to protect themselves from potential harm (sometimes self-inflicted). In some sense, even the contestants have probably signed their lives away and give up any rights to launch any legal actions if anything go wrong (an analogy is the forms you have to sign before your parachute jump), the reality TV shows makers should be more aware and ready to provide help to the contestants when troubles arises. The speakers of the session are aware the duty of care they are responsible of, even though they may not be legally bound to. Have a watch of the follow video clip and share your thoughts.
Since we are talking about reality TV, Ricky Gervais, winner of the Sir Peter Ustinov Award for Comedy at the 2010 Banff World TV Festival, had an interesting take in the finale of Extras (highly recommended funny comedy). I was lucky to ask Ricky specifically about the finale. Here is a clip.
Official The Chicken or The Egg session description from 2012 Banff.
“The Chicken or The Egg – Casting For Reality
Uncovering the characters in reality television can be a challenge as producers search for engaging and genuine subjects. In this behind-the-scenes look at the nuances of discovering incredible individuals to participate in this ever growing genre, you will hear first-hand from a producer and personality expert from some of the hottest reality shows. They will discuss the fine line between creating television that is entertaining, yet not exploitative, that presents the nitty-gritty of real-life drama.
What is the creative process in finding the characters that drive our favourite reality shows?
What are some of the challenges in putting together the perfect ensemble cast of characters?
What is the network involvement in casting for reality series?”
Official 2012 Banff bio for Jonathan Glazier.
“Jonathan Glazier – Creative Director – Entertainment Master Class and Pepper Rafferty
Jonathan’s career spans 30 years directing and producing some of the top entertainment shows in the UK. As editor of entertainment and international formats at the BBC he was Executive Producer of Weakest Link, amongst others. He also founded the BBC think tank Format Factory and has spoken and lectured throughout the world on creativity and format entertainment. He then moved to head up Fox World in the UK a global role sourcing and producing international programming. Most recently he returned to the UK after working in Australia and New Zealand as head of international production and development at Eyeworks New Zealand. In the UK he joined Talent Television taking the role of Director of Entertainment and a 10% holding in the AIM listed company Talent Group plc. In March of 2011 he set up Pepper Rafferty, a digital video production house creating content and video for the digital space. Pepper Rafferty set up the digital signage and content at Wembley Stadium and has worked with many large retailers across the world creating video and apps. Jonathan Glazier is Creative Director and Advisory Board Member of the Entertainment Master Class. Pepper Rafferty Pepper Rafferty – inspiring on every screen, delivers web video. Working with clients all over the world building brands, creating retail video, product video and testimonial videos. Pepper Rafferty can deliver digital signage, from content creation to installation. We help brands use social media to deliver their massage and brand.”
Official 2012 Banff bio for Dr. Richard Levak.
“Dr. Richard Levak, PhD
Dr. Levak Consulting
Upon completing his university education in England, Dr. Richard Levak moved to San Diego, California where he earned his Doctorate in clinical psychology, specializing in personality assessment. He is the co-author of four books and numerous articles and presentations on this subject.
As a consultant to reality television programs from the beginning of that genre, Dr. Levak worked on Survivor, The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, The Contender, Big Brother, American Candidate, Black White, Cupid and others. In this role, he screened candidates and made predictions about people’s behavior, based on personality assessment.
Dr. Levak has a private practice in Del Mar, California. He enjoys surfing, skiing, beach volleyball and reading the Economist.
Dr. Levak Consulting
Dr. Levak’s personality expertise has been applied in forensic settings, where he has been involved in a number of high profile cases. He also lends his personality expertise in executive hiring decisions, management development and corporate teambuilding.
Dr. Levak has lectured extensively on the subject of personality in academic, professional and community settings. He has appeared on television and radio programs locally and nationwide, including Larry King Live, 20/20, Nightline and Anderson Cooper, and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal.”